Aussie Millions Day 2: Willcocks, Mizzi and The Panda

Just over ten hours ago the Crown Poker Room was buzzing with excitement. There were 355 players at the tables for Day 2 of the Aussie Millions Main Event and it is likely that each and every one of them were keen for a long day ruffling chips, mucking cards and raking pots.

Slowly but surely the excitement morphed into something else. Everything ended up very serious. No longer was the all-important prize pool just a distant dream. Players were eliminated, the money came into sight. The prize pool was close enough that players needed to give every decision their undivided attention, but not close enough to worry about being branded the bubble boy... Yet.

When the tournament clock was paused after six 90-minute levels and the call to deal just a few hands at each table was made, 109 players remained. It is the top 72 who make the money and so there will be a couple of dozen disappointed players during the early stages of Thursday's Day 3.

Another player who likely won't be too worried about the money bubble is Gareth "The Panda" Dwyer. It was a big day for Dwyer as he had one of the chunkiest chip bags. It was filled with 503,600 worth of chips. Dwyer eliminated affable Aussie Tony Tartaglia late in the night when Tartaglia was all in holding A♥4♣ and Dwyer held K♠T♠ and flopped a flush on a J♠9♠4♠T♦7♣ board.

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They call Dwyer "The Panda"

Dwyer has finished 4th in a tournament before, though it was only a $240 event here in the Crown Poker Room back in 2011. The total prize was less than the Aussie Millions Main Event buy-in, so the $15,000 min-cash will be a welcomed addition to Dwyer's poker resume.Though, the $1.6 million top prize would be much better.

There are only two players with bigger stacks than Dwyer and both of them are far more experienced in terms of results. First we have Sorel Mizzi with 501,700 - the second largest stack. Mizzi, from Canada, has almost $9 million in tournament results, but not too much have that has been posted in Australia. Though he did pocket six figures for finishing 9th in the 2011 Aussie Millions Main Event.

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Sorel Mizzi looking to improve on his 2011 efforts

Then we have our chip leader Kiwi Phillip Willcocks. He has 510,600 in chips. Willcocks has had plenty of success in tournaments around this region, especially here in the Crown Poker Room where he finished 2nd in the 2011 APPT Melbourne Main Event.

Willcocks, Mizzi and Dwyer will be joined at the felt by big names such as John Juanda, Scott Seiver, Eoghan O'Dea, Antonio Esfandiari, Erik Seidel and Team PokerStars Pros Jason Mercier, Raymond Wu, Angel Guillen, Randy Lew, Liv Boeree and Jonathan Duhamel. If Mercier and Esfandiari continue their deep run in the 2014 Aussie Millions Main Event they may be able to make good on a prop bet with someone in the poker media.

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Raymond Wu's stack is the largest of the Team PokerStars Pros

With another day in the books, it's time to head out of the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia and into bed for some shut eye before Day 3 of the Aussie Millions Main Event begins at 12:15 p.m. local time.

The plan tomorrow is to play six 90-minute levels and get as close to 36 players as possible. When 36 remain, there is a redraw and the tournament becomes six-handed. Be sure to check out the Aussie Millions page for the Day 3 table draw and all that important stuff. Until tomorrow!

Joshua Bell
@PokerStars in Asia Pacific Poker Tour